After standing for over 120 years, one of Neepawa’s oldest homes was demolished late last month after becoming unusable in recent years. Looking back at the building’s history, it has been home to one of the men some believe was involved in incorporating Neepawa as a town as well as one of the community’s well-known doctors. It also acted as an influence for the community’s famous Margaret Laurence. The home was located at 483 Second Ave. John Wemyss According to history from the Neepawa Municipal Heritage Display for community homes and buildings, the original site owner was John Wemyss who built the house in 1890. “This rambling house features interesting roof designs and bay windows on the first and second story levels,” the display states. The story behind John Wemyss’ beginnings in Neepawa are somewhat contested. Some literature points to Wemyss as being the local lawyer who prepared the incorporation documents which legally heralded Neepawa’s status as a town in 1883. Meanwhile, other literature claims Wemyss’ involvement in the incorporation of the town is in fact a ‘legend’ and claim he moved to Neepawa in 1887 to establish a law office on the north side of Hamilton Street, opposite the County Court Building. Wemyss was undisputedly well-respected in the community and was known for carrying a walking stick. John is also the paternal grandfather of one of Neepawa’s most famous residents Peggy Wemyss, who later changed her name to Margaret Laurence. As seen in the top photo, right of the story, there was a circular window near the top of the home. Laurence had said she often spent time looking out the window while visiting that house and drew inspiration from it. The window was saved from the home and is now on display at the Margaret Laurence Home. John Wemyss passed away of a heart attack in August of 1926 and his wife, who was moving away from Neepawa, sold the home in 1929. The notice of sale published in The Neepawa Press notes the “home contains some of the most expensive and valuable furnishings...everything will be sold without reserve to the highest bidder”. H.H. Hutchinson Dr. Henry Harris Hutchinson, his wife and four children moved into the historic home in 1936. Dr. Hutchinson was well-known for being fair in his practice, and taking a keen interest in sports and community affairs. He was one of the golf course’s original directors. Barry Hutchinson, one of Henry’s sons who has retired to Neepawa, remembers living in the large home with a front and back porch, kitchen, dining room, den, living room, three bedrooms, a bathroom and two fireplaces. The door ways all featured attractive woodwork, while the kitchen had two stoves; one was wood and coal while the other was electric. The wood and coal stove was often used for heating coal pieces to be used as foot warmers in the winter. The house was so large, there were also two rooms in the back part of the home that the Hutchinson family didn’t use. “There was an atmosphere in that house,” Barry recollects. “It was very cold, but it was a bonding house. You get in a room and everyone fit in it comfortably.” With his father being the town doctor, Barry also remembers the phone going off incessantly. “One year after the war, my father delivered over 400 babies,” Barry recollects. Doctor H.H. Hutchinson passed away in 1962 and was predeceased by his wife in 1956. His family sold the home around 1964. Since moving out of the home in 1963, Barry has still kept an old radio and kitchen kettle from the home.